1st Regiment Cadets trained on the rappel tower and confidence obstacle course as part of Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2022. 

Cadet Conor Custer from Lock Haven University enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 18. He attended air assault training, which he said helped him conquer his fear of heights.

One obstacle involved climbing a rope, walking across beams and climbing down a rope net. 

U.S. Army Cadets practice belaying for the rappel tower at Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2022. Cadets used a short wall to practice rappelling before moving on to the 64-foot rappel tower as part of their Cadet Summer Training. | Erinn Finley, CST Public Affairs Office.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do the ‘tough one’ obstacle, but other than that I passed all the obstacles that were over there and repelling – repelling is always fun,” Custer said. “I’ve done it a bunch of times before now since I’ve been through air assault.”

The rappel tower and the obstacle course helped Cadets gain more confidence and overcome personal fears. The training also helps develop teamwork among the Cadets.

Custer said he had no fear during the rappelling since he had done it before, but he tried to encourage some of his buddies who have a fear of heights. 

Custer also said he was a lot more scared rappelling the first time he tried it than he was today. 

“Once you get it through your head that ‘I’ve got to trust my equipment, my equipment’s not going to fail me, I’ve got my buddy, who’s on belay,’ it’s all going to be okay,” Custer said. 

Cadet Maggie Leonard, who attends U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Rhode Island said she is very excited to be at CST. She said she had done the obstacle course before, but had not rappelled before. 

“I’ve never done the rappelling before, but I was really looking forward to it and I had a great time,” Leonard said. “Looking over the edge was a bit scary, but it was awesome learning how to do everything, being able to trust your equipment.” 

Leonard said the first thing they did for rappelling was learn how to put on the safety harnesses properly. The harnesses were checked by cadre before the Cadets repelled to make sure they were properly secured.

Afterwards, the Cadets practiced rappelling on a scaled down practice wall.

“We started off with the 45 degree incline, which was really nice,” Leonard said. “So if you were scared of going down the straight wall at the end, 45 was a nice ease into it.” 

After Cadets practiced on the vastly smaller 45 degree wall, they repelled down the straight wall on the 64-foot rappel tower. Lastly, Cadets repelled down the open side of the tower without a wall.

A U.S. Army Cadet completes an obstacle on the confidence obstacle course at Fort Knox, Ky., June 9, 2022. The obstacle course helped Cadets develop more confidence and work together as a team. | Erinn Finley, CST Public Affairs

The rappel tower and obstacle course present different challenges for different Cadets. Often Cadets relied on teamwork to get through the challenging parts of the training. 

Leonard said the most challenging part of the day’s training was the “tough one” obstacle. She said the rope climb was difficult for her. 

“I’m not so strong climbing ropes so it kind of beat my confidence a little, but I had my squad mates that helped me out (and) got me through it,” Leonard said.

About the Author: Erinn Finley
Erinn Finley
Erinn Finley is a senior at Murray State University majoring in journalism. She enjoys writing, reading, travel and photography. She worked for the student newspaper at her campus to further her writing skills outside of the classroom. During the Cadet Summer Training internship, she hopes to further her photography and writing skills.